LETTER: Does pandemic offer hope for society?

From reader Charles Jeanes

You will no doubt have a deluge of letters this week. I too will offer observations on the pandemic and our reactions.

I am learning much about homo sapiens, in this unprecedented (for me) situation, when we balance personal civil liberties with authority and a notion of the greater good. I resist limits on my autonomy. I know when there are reasons for it though.

When we pass through this, there will be many studies of how we acted, and the people with the data will use it to their ends. Were we obedient? Why or why not? How can our rulers ensure we line up when they need us to, as for a war?

I have several friends of spiritual bent, certain that this time of fear is a threshhold event, leading humanity to better ways of being human. More conscious, more compassionate, less materialistic, less obsessed with trivia. I wish I knew of a good historic example.

After World War I and the Spanish flu, some prophets said progress was at hand. The crash of 1929, Fascists, Nazis, Stalinists, followed. After World War II and the atom bomb, more predictions of a brave and better new world. You know the denoument. I heard optimism after 9/11 and after the Wall Street failures of 2008/09.

By all means, let us do our best to be better. And be realistic about “progress.”

I endorse D. Paetkau’s remark (“School board policy unfair,” Letters, March 19) that now is a time we find out our qualities. May we find we are worthy of esteem, not a disappointment for the optimists.

Charles Jeanes


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